As talk about Erythritol has picked up some popularity on social media based on the release of a recent study linking it to heart disease, we here at Trash Panda want to offer information about what erythritol is, the health impacts of consumption, and other options for sweeteners to consider. It’s important that you have access to the correct information about ingredients, and what better place to find them than on Trash Panda!
What is Erythritol?
Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol: a hybrid of sugar and alcohol molecules used as a low calorie substitute for sugar. An industrially fermented form of Erythritol is added to some low-sugar and sugar-free foods and drinks. Erythritol is often made from GMO cornstarch, which means it could contain potentially harmful chemicals.
It is often marketed as a "natural" sweetener because it is found naturally in some fruits and fermented foods. However, despite its widespread use, erythritol is not without its health risks, particularly when consumed in large quantities.
Health Impacts of Eating Erythritol
One of the primary negative health impacts of erythritol is its potential to cause gastrointestinal distress. Like other sugar alcohols, erythritol is not fully absorbed by the body and can pass through the digestive system largely unchanged. This can cause digestive issues and discomfort such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain in some people, particularly when consumed in high doses.
A recent study has also correlated erythritol to an increased risk in cardiovascular disease. While it hasn’t been proven that consumption of the sugar substitute directly causes strokes and heart attacks, the association between the two raises enough flags to be concerning.
Another concern with erythritol is its impact on blood sugar and insulin levels. While erythritol does not have a significant effect on blood sugar or insulin levels in healthy individuals, some research suggests that it may be problematic for individuals with insulin resistance or diabetes. One study found that consuming erythritol with a meal led to higher blood sugar and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes, compared to consuming the same meal with a different sugar substitute.
Finally, there are some concerns about the safety of erythritol over the long term. While erythritol has generally been recognized as safe by regulatory bodies like the FDA, some animal studies have suggested that it may have negative effects on the kidneys and liver over time. More research is needed to fully understand the long-term impact of erythritol consumption on human health, which is why we flag it as "Questionable" in the Trash Panda app.
What is Erythritol Found in?
If you’re looking to avoid erythritol, we always flag it in the Trash Panda app. Since Erythritol is a substitute for sugar, many zero-sugar and low-calorie products include it to sweeten their products. Some examples of products that contain erythritol are:
Rather than choosing products with erythritol, you may want to look for more naturally sweetened options like honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, dates, cane sugar, or even monk fruit extract.
For even more high protein options without sugar alcohols like erythritol, check out our latest shopping list of High Protein Picks in the Trash Panda App, available with a Trash Panda Membership.
Although sugar alcohols like erythritol are sugar substitutes, that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily good for you. At Trash Panda our goal is to offer information and ingredients that have better health benefits. And with the growing concerns of erythritol, it’s important to understand the risks while also offering better options. Scanning ingredients on our app helps point out foods that contain these ingredients so you know what to start looking for.